Prepare to Get Your Share
According to a report1 prepared jointly by the US Census Bureau and US Bureau of Economic Analysis, American companies exported $150 billion ($150,044,000,000, to be exact) in consumer goods in 2009. In just the first six months of 2010, the figure was nearly $95 billion. If this trend continues through the end of 2010, US consumer goods exports may increase 27% over 2009. Are you prepared to get your share of this?
Are you considering selling your consumer products outside the United States? If you are already exporting, are you looking for ways to boost your profit margin and market share through increasing product appeal to potential buyers? In addition to translation to meet legal and regulatory requirements, consider how your potential customers will view your products. You will want your labeling, packaging, inserts, and any associated print or online product descriptions, instructions, warranties, distribution contracts, and licensing agreements to not only be translated, but localized.
Many iconic U.S. companies have learned the hard way that thoughtfully approaching target business communities and supporting local distributors’ efforts should have been just as much of a priority as getting their product presentation right.
Consumers are very sensitive to the nuances of language. Consumer products that are not localized for the intended market are not as successful as those that look and feel familiar, even if the translation is in a language they can generally understand. Example: in the UK, they can understand “localization” even though they write “localisation,” and “color” instead of “colour,” but some words spelled the same have completely different meanings. Case in point—a common section found in consumer product user inserts in the United States is titled “Tips.” A tip in the UK is one of those big garbage dumpsters.
The old saying “penny wise, pound foolish” applies to product presentation. Careful localization of your product ensures that your intended customers do not feel like an afterthought.
Using a US-based translation company with global resources may not always be as inexpensive as allowing a distributor or agent in the target export country to translate or localize your product labeling, packaging, and documentation, but it allows you to retain control of your product image and brand. It is amazing how many ways this can go wrong, and most would leave you shaking your head in disbelief. This brings another saying to mind, “It’s cheaper to do it right the first time.”
A top-notch translation company knows which translators to select for different markets and what they need in the project localization kit in order to return the best deliverable. Sometimes, a localized feel can be achieved even across multiple countries sharing a language. This is another function typically performed more efficiently and economically by good translation companies. Through using a team of translators to review an initial translation, terms and aesthetics can often be agreed upon that are well received by customers in all your target markets.
Shameless plug for us: McElroy Translation works with product teams to quickly nail down the best strategy for individual clients’ product translation priorities. We can economically obtain expert feedback regarding local preferences for product aesthetics for your product. We already have resources in place to assemble the right team of translators, whether it be graphics artists for press-ready labeling or legal translation, to handle the complete range of expertise required. Your attorney didn’t design your product image, and your packaging design team didn’t author your distributor contract. The same is true for quality consumer goods localization. We place assignments with professional translators not only based on language pair, but also on subject matter expertise.
1 http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/ft900.pdf released September 9, 2010